Why the government cannot abolish contractualization?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It is very easy to declare during the campaign that all forms of contractualization should be abolished and would be abolished immediately in the first year of the Duterte administration. However, based on hard realities it cannot be done immediately or it cannot be done at all due to many deleterious effects and serious complications.

Of course, we agree that the exploitative schemes and machinations called "5-5-5" and "endo" should be stopped and would really be stopped. The truth of the matter is that under Article 106 to 109 of the Labor Code, as well as under DOLE Order no 19-A, such nefarious practices are already prohibited.

First and foremost, the government cannot abolish contractualization because the government itself has hundreds of thousands of "job order" workers who are paid pittance and below the levels of the living wage and the poverty line.

These workers in government are deprived of benefits like the SSS, the ECC, the Pag-ibig, the PhilHealth and other social protections. Thus, the government does not have the moral and ethical basis to impose on the private sector the prohibition of the same practice that it condemns. Government should set the example. It should walk its own talk.

Legitimate job contracting, and what is called nowadays as valid outsourcing, cannot be abolished because without them, the Philippines as an economy will lose out in the widely globalized economic community. If contractualization is abolished in our country then in ASEAN, the Philippines will be the only country that will regularize all jobs, including the peripheral and non-core activities.

Outsourcing and contract labor is allowed in all the ten ASEAN countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos PDR and Brunei.

To abolish contractualization in the Philippines would displace no less than five to six million contractual workers. They will be compelled to go sell everything they possess in order to afford going abroad, only to accept dirty difficult, dangerous, degrading, and deceptive jobs because they don't have much knowledge and skills.

Today, even with meager wages, contractual workers do earn something to keep their bodies and souls together. They earn more skills and are exposed to contacts and linkages that can open better doors for them to find some brighter future.

Moreover, a shotgun approach to abolish totally such outsourcing system would be depriving the employers their rights to contract and source-out non-core, non-permanent, and non-essential activities, like janitorial, security, maintenance, and other peripheral jobs. It will also kill the micro, the small and the medium-scale industries that comprise no less than 90 percent of our market. To put it briefly, such abolition would kill the geese that lay the golden eggs.

In his inaugural speech, President Duterte quoted Lincoln in declaring that government cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. They cannot help the wage-earners by destroying the wage-givers. It stands to reason therefore to conclude that abolition might have been a great idea whose time has not yet come.

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